The Last Day

Monday, February 29, 2016

A few weeks ago I came across an article online referring to the last day - the last day your child falls asleep in your arms, or the last day they need you to help them get dressed. How time is oh so short and you don't know you're in the last day until it's passed. Needless to say - it got my tears flowing. I've already hit "the last day" on a few milestones with the twins, and it breaks my heart. They will never take a bottle while cuddled up in my arms, staring back into my eyes with a hand curled around my finger. They are moving so quickly out of the baby stage and into the toddler (aka kid) stage, as they grow more independent and start learning so many new things.

Throw back to last year!
It's interesting because life will give you tons of "last days" that you won't even know will come and go. Thinking about my divorce being one of those instances - I think about how I didn't know the last time I'd kiss or exchange "I love yous" with my ex until way after it happened ... and that it would be the last time it would ever happen. Would that have changed anything if I knew in the moment? Likely not. But it makes it tug at those heart strings a little harder.

As life keeps moving forward, we will all experience these last moments - big and small. The last time that your child climbs into your lap, the last time your dog runs like a puppy around your home, the last time you have a heart to heart conversation with a close friend. I see it all lining up at the horizon - just waiting for us to experience it. And we won't know it until it's gone - that it was the last time we'd get to enjoy that moment.

Murk, Murk, Murk

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hm. I feel like everything I write about is murky and sad and depressing. Makes me wonder if that's really how I feel about my life right now and am afraid to admit it? Let me add that to the list of things to review with my therapist. (Who BTW, I refer to as my "counselor" and my friend questioned my use of that word and why I didn't call her a therapist ... Personal preference?) I think lately, I've just been getting caught up in 1 or 2 bad interactions with people when I have tons of interactions with tons of people a day, that go well. Let's flip it all back to that! Anyways, I thought it might be time to share some positive stuff that happened recently ...

1. You can call me Ashley Vila. I recently took down my old (shadowing) 37" tv and replaced it with a brand new 43" tv. I got some help removing the old tv bracket, but put up the new bracket all by myself, and hooked my tv up to it. I also added this cool strip to "hide" the cords ... or at least make them not so obvious. I really like how it all turned out!

2. You can call me the Biggest Loser. Okay, don't do that. But I've been making an actual effort to get to the gym at least 3x's a week - even heading to my apartment complex gym at 7:30 am for a 30 minute work out. Kinda proud of myself! This is an image I posted on my Instagram that received a ton of love and I just felt all warm inside from it. It's real and it's me. Read that post here

3. You can call us Barnum and Bailey. The girls are getting more brave as they get older. They're regular "climbers" and love to get rough and tumble, which basically gives me a heart-attack constantly throughout the day. Caught this snap below of Harper standing on the ottoman, after which she dove head first onto the couch in a fit of giggles - and then repeated about 50x's. 

What good stuff have you been up to lately?

Ignorance is Bliss

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Recently, I found out some things about myself/personality that I'm not too proud of. I was totally ignorant to these actions until they were presented in front of me and like a stack of dominoes, came all tumbling down. I spent the better part of a day crying in embarrassment and disappointment in myself and I'm still not over it. The silver lining is that I can lump it all into this year of self-discovery that I've found myself in.

To know and realize that we are all not perfect - and I'm absolutely lumped into that group. No matter the wrongs that I have incurred in this life, I've clearly done my part in wronging others. To lift my head up and know that I'm not where I want to be, or who I want to be and I'm not okay with this pattern that I circle back and forth into. That life carries on and I can move with it a better person, or be dragged along acting like things do not need to change. And, they do need to change. Whether it's health or personality traits, there's a lot of work that needs to be done to get myself to 100%. I'm no where near there but I believe I can get there some day. But I need to put the work in and to cease being ignorant to what's got me to this point. I have to take control and make an effort. I can and I will.

Building Your Tribe and Taking Stock

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ever since around Valentine's Day, I've been in a funk. I don't think it was the actual day per se but other things that were happening around that time that kinda just took the wind out of my sails and made me realize that maybe I'm not really handling things as well as I thought I was. In particular, I've had something happen with 2 friends that's kinda left me feeling like the lonely girl in the room - I was a creep, and now they're keeping their distance. I'm so mad at myself. And apparently as a punishment, I've dipped into the "loneliest girl in the world" type of sorrow - which is actually not really true at all because these are two people that I don't even talk to that often in real life. Perception my friends. It's everything.

It's funny how things work like that. How you can maintain focus on something that happens and it skews your entire perception of EVERYTHING.

Life is a learning experience. We're hear to grow and develop and experience THINGS! And not all of those things are happy moments. Some of them are hard times, pain, embarrassment, etc. It's all a part of the process - you can't have a rainbow without the rain.

Moments of "blah" still creep in almost daily. But I really want to shake this funk and I think part of that is focusing on the good and learning from this situation that I find myself in. I can sit and be sad and embarrassed forever but that won't change anything unless I change. And it won't help me feel better, either! And a lot of that is realizing that I have many other people in my "tribe" that I rely on and have in my life that impact it positively - from great friends to my sister and dad ... these are people that are consistently in my life, people who will pick me up when I get down and people who help talk me through the embarrassing crap that I may or may not do! We all need a tribe. Who's in yours?

Lastly, I think another way of turning this frown upside down is to take stock of the good stuff that happens daily in my world. Sure I'm not in a relationship and there are many nights when it's literally just me by myself all day long - but that's okay. I should not be afraid to fill my days with things that I like to do and be thankful that I get to enjoy those things. And to learn to rely on my friends when I'm feeling down about myself - to not be afraid to bug them when I need them. To remember that we're all on a journey and this is part of mine. It won't always be this glum and I have a lot to look forward to. In the meantime, I can work on being a better friend and a better person and enjoy all of the good things that are in my world.

Perfectly Imperfect

Monday, February 22, 2016

As I write this, I have already "failed" myself three times today. I ate McDonalds for breakfast and lunch and I skipped my pre-planned 12 pm gym exercise class. As I took my last bite of my lunch and headed back to the office, my negative thoughts started to creep in. All I could think about is how I let myself down, how this won't get me to being healthier and happier, and what a waste of a day. But then I reeled back. This is part of the cycle that I do to myself - trip up, beat myself up, and then spiral into an even bigger mess. Because I messed up 3x's today - does that mean the entire day is a waste? Does that mean I'm not worthy of happiness? Does that mean I'm a loser?

Honestly, meh.

I'm SO sick of beating myself up. Sure, I'm not happy with the baby weight that has stuck around. I'm not happy with my eating habits or the amount of wine consumed nightly. I'm not happy with how out of shape I'm in, which becomes completely apparent amidst an exercise class at the gym. But is all of that negative talk and beating myself up worth it? It's it benefiting me or making things worse? I think the latter. I think the negative self-talk (which isn't new if you've been a reader for a while) does more harm than good. I think negative self-talk is what makes a bad day turn into a horrible day - which makes 100 extra calories to 3,000 extra calories.

Just because I messed up, I need to learn to not make it a habit - but to show grace to myself. To pat myself on the back, become my own cheerleader and make sure that everything doesn't spiral into a worse situation. It's okay to consume calories. It's okay to have days where we don't work out. It's okay to drink wine by the bottle glass. When it doesn't become okay is when we bully ourselves into self-hatred, when we lose confidence, when we do not love ourselves. Be gentle with your soul. Be kind to yourself. Allow mistakes - just don't make them a habit. And work on building better habits.

I had 3 reasons to totally throw this day away. But I have two little reasons (H&H) to not make it worse - and to pick myself back up and keep moving forward.

Thankful List #3

Sunday, February 21, 2016

It's the month of love!! 

This week my Thankful List is:

Thankful List 02.14.16

1. an amazing sister who stays in touch lots and lots :)

2. my two little Valentine's

3. good times and fun friends for the Superbowl!

4. $100 giftcard to Dunkin Donuts from my dad! It's kinda like Dunkin for life! ha!

5. coloring books! my girls love to color!

6. SPRING being less than 40 days away!

7. coffee - because it's my life source

8. sushi - because it's amazing and I'm addicted

9. A restful heart - being content with myself

10. snow - yep, I want spring ... but something about soft, sparkly white snow is so calming. I love the quietness that follows

What are you thankful for?

Single Mom Adventures: Kickboxing Class

Friday, February 19, 2016

A few posts ago, I shared that I did my first ever PiYo class through my work gym - in an effort to get my postpartum @$$ off the couch and get more active. PiYo murdered me for a week. Sure, the class was fun and I got a really good work out ... but the after effects literally sidelined me for a while. That's what I get for being out of shape! So, after being sidelined for a week - I played volleyball on Sunday and had my "life coach" call on Monday and then decided to try to jump back into things. I did 15 minutes on the elliptical on Monday ... nothing big but was SOMETHING. I found that I wander the gym, though, when I don't go in with a plan and I missed the class I wanted to attend because of work stuff I needed to do.

Tuesday, though, I made it a point to get into a 30 minute "Express" cardio kickboxing class at work. I like that it's express because it's literally 30 minutes over the lunch hour and you still get a good workout in without draining 45 minutes+ to get back into the office, or go before or after work. I've done kickboxing before - but things class integrated boxing bags, which I have never worked with before. I honestly didn't know what to expect.

We had 11 people in the class and only three bags so six people got to be on the bags at a time. We did an interval twice and then switched - so everyone had a chance to work on the bags, if they wanted to. Some people opted not to which was fine. I started out on the bags and felt good doing the work out but half way in my legs cramped up (I stretched before hand!) and I got winded super fast. I battled through, though!

Then we switched and the same thing happened. It totally whomped my butt but I tried to at least keep moving when I could and promised myself to continue exercising because I'll be able to get better at these classes when I start being better to myself. Overall, I enjoyed the class and wasn't too scared of it as I thought I might be when I saw the boxing bags come out! I would totally do it again and the 30 minute time frame was perfect for a quick lunch work out!

What new workouts have you tried recently? What keeps you going when you want to quit during a workout?

Surviving Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

This past weekend was my first single Valentine's Day in over 4 years. It was the first year where I didn't share a love with someone - where I sat back on the sidelines and watched as my Facebook timeline emitted profession after profession of love from my friends. It's an interesting perspective, and to say my heart wasn't a little hurt that day would be a lie. It's amazing to see the love that my friends and family have in their lives and even if it's one day out of the year where people share their showering of gifts, or special plans - it's sweet to know that love like that exists and the people I care about most have that to share with someone.

But sometime around early afternoon, my little heart turned a tad bitter. And I tried desperately to swing out from that but it put me in a small rut. At times, I feel like I'm taking 10 steps back while all of my friends take 3 steps forward. The people I'm closest to are now having kids and taking that next step in their relationships - and it's amazing to see ... but at times I feel like I'm truly on the sidelines. I'm the part-time parent, the pariah who's ex wife left her. I'm not part of a "traditional" family unit. There are 1,000 times a day that I wish for that for my girls - I wish more than anything that they had two parents TOGETHER and their family was in-tact. Valentine's Day was another reminder of something that makes me ache almost daily.

But I made it! I survived! I may have downed a bottle of wine solo and totally inhaled sushi for two by  myself - BUT DAMNIT ... I made it! WHEW! And, it wasn't as terrible as I was afraid it would be. Sometimes we work things up in our mind and then when we finally experience them, they're actually not as terrible. Or we're able to experience the crappy thing and walk away with a new perspective. I like when that happens - I feel like it helps me grow and understand this complex world we live in.

Under Pressure

Monday, February 15, 2016

I put a lot of pressure on myself; as a mom, as a person, etc. When I feel overwhelmed with tasks or things to do (or rather, things I "should" be doing) I stop. Yep. I just don't do anything ... and it makes it worse and I feel like crap about myself. 

I have a lot of plans, and a lot of things I want to accomplish personally. For example, last week I had a goal to exercise 3x's that week. I went twice. I made excuses because my body was (and still is) SO stinking sore and cramped from PiYo. I know this is a sign to stretch and keep going - because the more I exercise, the easier it'll be. But it lands me on my butt on the couch instead. 

My stomach is still a big round and I still can't fit into my pre-pregnancy pants. I'm 19 months postpartum and feel like a total failure. I don't feel good in my own skin - so even thinking about dating or anything (which I'm totally not thinking about) gets wiped out of my mind because I don't feel attractive enough. There's a lot of self-bashing and negative talk going on in my mind, apparently. It's bumming me out ya'll! 

What are some of your best tips and tricks to motivate yourself? What's your favorite phrase to lift yourself out of a rut?

Love + Light

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day, my dears! I hope your day is filled with love and light! You deserve it!


Source: IG | @jennifergull83

What's With All of the Anger?

Friday, February 12, 2016

I'm officially two months out from my actual divorce date and like 8 months out from when my world fell a part. It's weird - I prayed and prayed to just fast forward time during this summer ... it was so so so emotionally hard, and I just knew that if I could get over that initial heartbreak and pain, that it'd be better. And in many ways it is!

However, along with the normal anger and grief one experiences during a divorce - no one really talks about the anger you get by parenting solo. And at times I have a ton of it. Not towards my kids, but aimed 110% at my ex. I didn't sign up to have kids by myself - I wanted to raise them with the love of my life in our home forever. I wanted a teammate (moms v. kids), and I wanted someone to share in that with me. Clearly, my current reality is a bit different.

There are times when I SO enjoy making 100% of the decisions myself and not having to worry about anyone else's opinions. But there are also times when I just need someone to tag me out - or when I'm having a crazy, crazy morning and have zero help getting the girls ready (in addition to myself) and fed and dressed and gathering all of the items that are ever needed to just simply get out the door ... psssssh. It's a wonder why I have an 8:30 am bedtime. Yes, I get "parenting breaks" every few days when the girls are off with my ex - but I get mad over the "point." That I didn't want a divorce and I didn't want to parent solo and here I am.

When I sit back and look at the phases of grief - I think I'm making my way through anger onto acceptance. I don't cry as much any more, and I have excitement over my future. I've always been okay being alone - so being a single mom is not dipping me into a pit of despair (yet). Shocker - I actually got off the dating websites because my heart isn't in it - and I'm happy just being with myself and my girls. Not to say I don't have moments where I curse my ex's name under my breath, or wish I never met her. I think that's normal, right? I want to let it go, though... for myself. Because the stress it creates cinches up my shoulder blades and is painful. Because it's creating fine lines across my forehead and because it's making me be someone that I don't want to be. And I have bigger plans ahead - for a big happy life. Even if I'm solo on this adventure.

Single Mom Money: Student Loan Debt Sucks

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I've mentioned before that I'm on a zero balance budget plan to pay off all of my debt, get my finances in order, build savings (ie. college costs for girls + retirement) and have an ultimate goal of purchasing a home before the girls enter kindergarten. I've been making some strides in this area and have already paid off one of my student loans and will be paying off another plus a personal loan with my income tax refund. That doesn't mean I'm out of the woods in the debt department, though.

While jotting down my remaining balances, it totally hit me how insane student loan debt really is. There are atrocious rates and OHMYGOD (15 years to pay off?!) ... it's crazy that this is the way most of us pay for a college degree. When I was a senior in high school, my dad and I looked at schools but he had only gone for a semester and dropped out - so this was all pretty new to us. We just knew that I'd find a school, we'd pray I'd get accepted and then he'd help me move in on the first day. We didn't put thought into how much a school cost, or how I would pay for anything really (books, food, etc.). I knew I wanted to go to a school where I'd have a better chance to play collegiate sports, so I chose a small private NCAA Division III school that had a good softball and volleyball program.

My school was 3 hours from home - perfect for a 1 day trip for my dad to visit but far enough away where I'd have to get warning of an arrival (not like my dad would just show up anyways). I joined the softball and volleyball teams my freshman year, ultimately selecting softball only my sophomore year and then quitting the team (and all sports) the end of my junior year. My university's tuition rose about 6% every year I was there and I'm pretty sure it was around $26,000 a year by my senior year. We applied for FAFSA but didn't always get great tuition breaks, but I did qualify for student loans. My senior year I was working for my current company full time during the evenings after class, juggling being an editor for the school paper, trying to be active (and failing totally) in my sorority, plus ... studying? time for friends? Yeah, it was brutal.

My senior year was the year that we had to take out the biggest loan in all my 4 years at school. My dad worked more at his city job so we didn't qualify for as much assistance that year. By the time I graduated I had tens of thousands of student loan debt and a clock ticking until repayments began 6 months after graduation. I struggled for years after graduating college just to make the minimum payments which totaled around $400 a month. There are many times where I cried and barely made the payments, or missed them altogether.

Fast forward to today, where I have 10+ years of school behind me, which means I've been paying on these loans for 10+ years already. Most of them are pretty much paid down to a manageable amount than they were when I graduated. But looking at what the original loans were for and how much interest and principal I owed after all was said and done almost made me spit out my coffee. For example: two of my loans are private (there are a few others but I'll just use 2 for this post's purposes). One loan was taken out in 2002 (14 years ago if you like math) for the amount of $3,500. I'm pretty sure it was to help cover costs of classes for a semester. The rate it was taken out at was 5.25% which means the total repayment is $8,862.08. FIVE GRAND MORE THAN THE ORIGINAL LOAN!!!!!

Another loan was taken out in 2004 at 7.25% interest for an amount of $1,400. I think it was covering costs of books plus my sorority dues. Total interest and principal on that one? $3,405.55

It makes me sick how much money I'm actually repaying compared to how much my original need was. Someone clearly is making a huge profit off of a college education. The good news is that I'm more educated in this area, so when my two little people are ready to start considering college, we can make a game plan of what things will cost and I'll have more know-how of what to look for and what NOT TO DO! I don't want my girls to struggle as much as I did (a little struggle is okay tho!) and I want them to be smart about their money and where their money is going. Fingers crossed that when we get to that bridge, our decision process is a lot more informed and realistic!

2016 Goals Update!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

One month in and I have an update on some of my goals ... I want some accountability, so maybe if I profess things here I'll feel guilty for not completing them. I have some measurable updates on some of my "big rocks" for the year!

Healthier Lifestyle -

  • I signed up for a free coaching program through work. I have calls with a "life coach and trainer" every 2-4 weeks to set goals and hold myself accountable. It's nice to have just one more voice cheering me on. The program takes about 3-4 months to complete and because I registered for it, I get zero co-pays on some generic medications (I take one for high bp that I got from my pregnancy and stuck around because of my weight). 
  • Still working on the eating better and consistent exercise, but I am playing team sports again so I have Sundays booked for workouts! 
  • I signed up for a 5K in April! Super excited (and nervous) to complete that!
Financial Success -
  • I'm doing well in this area and will put a big chunk of my federal refund towards paying off one of my loans, and putting money aside for some things I have coming up. It's nice to not have to charge things, and I can't wait to shake off all of these loans! I'm also very close to paying off another student loan! Can't wait!
  • Facebook garage sales are another favorite of mine - I've found some neat items recently, a $20 (in excellent shape!) pre-loved Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair, and a $15 ottoman that I've been searching for as a foot rest and dinner table! :) I'm going to order a new cover for the PB chair (which still makes it a steal) and re-cover the ottoman!
Love Myself -
  • I've returned back to counseling, but spread out my sessions since they're a bit pricey out of pocket until my deductible is met. But better, than not going at all!
  • I've been making all kinds of plans with friends that I'm super excited about!! Concerts, trips, etc.! I also re-joined some sports teams and am currently in volleyball season and will do flag football in the spring and softball in the summer! 
  • Sewing is something I've been interested in really learning how to do for a while, so I think I'm going to sign up for an introductory class at Joann's this spring! I'm really excited to learn some new skills, and hopefully start making some fun stuff for around the house!

Thankful List #2

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A few weeks ago I started this little thing called "The Thankful List," where I show appreciation for the positive things in my life. Life post-divorce can be a little glum sometimes, so it's always great to point out the happy things that DO occur that sometimes we overlook. Here's this week's thankful list!

Thankful List 2.07.15

1. an income tax refund headed my way (gonna pay down some debt!)

2. resources available to jump start improving my health

3. new shows hitting Netflix!
  (Fuller House! Flaked! The Ranch! Kimmy Schmidt S2!)

4. great friends that make sure I schedule fun plans :)

5. coffee - seriously, it keeps me running

6. ability to still play sports! 
(always have the "love of the game")

7. the month of love!
(even tho I'm single, I still have such an enormous amount of love in my heart for my girls, friends and family)

8. babies!! I have a few close friends pregnant and I'm SO excited for these little nuggets!

9. planned vacations :)

10. beautiful morning sunrises


What are you thankful for? What makes your heart sign lately? 

Single Mom Adventures: Tackling PiYo

Friday, February 5, 2016

Single Mom Adventures is my little space in this blog where I share new adventures tackled by yours truly, this Single Mom! Random activities, events, places, etc. to show that if I can do this solo - so can YOU!

In previous posts I've chatted about seeing a movie at the movie theater by myself, and even having my first single Christmas with my girls. This time, I headed to a group fitness class at my work gym, which I've never done before. All by myself - not even with a work buddy to attend with! I have a goal this month to try out every class at my work gym at least once so I know what they were about and PiYo was first up!

I'm lucky because I have an on-site gym at work where I can escape to during the work day. I've been a member since it opened but after getting hitched in 2013 and then pregnant (and giving birth in 2014), I haven't really been back ... but have been dishing out the $15 a month payment. Waste! Since I have a goal of getting healthier and exercising more, I am making it a point to get my butt to the gym at least 3x's a week!

Sooooo PiYo. PiYo is a BeachBody program and is a mix of yoga and pilates. It focuses on non-stop fluid movements that combine toning/sculpting of pilates and flexibility of yoga. The low-impact program burns fat but speed of the fluid movements.


I'm a prenatal yoga flunkie. I tried it to help with my back issues and it did help - but I only went for like 3 weeks and stopped. Yoga is not my favorite work out and I don't really get it and it's boring for me. I'm more of a crank-up-the cardio, let's get moving type of gal. So the mix of this program with the fluid stretching movements of yoga, but the benefit of cardio with the sets that you do. I'm not going to lie though, it was hard. I am totally out of shape and at one point seriously contemplated walking straight out of that class. That was probably around the time I chugged my water bottle and then felt like I was going to faint ... then all my movements got super sluggish as I fake rested. 

But! I stuck it out and did as much as I could and modified where I needed to. I might have looked as great as some of the yoga ladies in my class, but I finished the full 40 minute class sweaty and feeling good. And after my shower, I totally felt great. So I'm glad I went, and I would totally go back!

Next up is a TRX strength training class! I'm super nervous with that one since I basically have the strength of a baby! 

Have you tried any new workouts this new year? How about any new adventures you're proud of?

Navigating Gender "Norms" as a Parent

Thursday, February 4, 2016

One of the most frustrating things when I was pregnant, was finding gender neutral clothes and baby items. We didn't find out the gender of our twins until our 20 week Level 2 ultrasound at the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor. But, as every parent is, we were eager to buy new things for our two bundles of joy (buying for baby is exciting!). As soon as you walk into a Carter's or any baby store, really you're immediately faced with a decision: walk one way for GIRL stuff and walk another way for BOY stuff. You had to dig around for clothes that weren't obvious "pink" or "blue," not that either gender couldn't wear those colors - but where's the section for non-gender conforming babies?

The day we found out we were having two girls, we were shocked. For some reason we thought there was at least a boy in my belly and the thought of twin girls really never crossed our minds! But we were super excited because we KNEW what section of the store we could go crazy in! We ended up dropping $80 on our first gender-known shopping trip - mostly in the girls section, but still looking for items that were gender neutral too. I remember a specific time being out shopping for the girls and wandering to the "boys" section and found an adorable pair of black and white space/planet pjs. We didn't buy them because they didn't have our size, but I realized how eff-ed up these gender norms really are. Why can't girls like planets and space? Why is that a "boy" thing? We ended up nabbing two pairs of fleece "puppy print" pjs from the boys section because girls can like puppies too.

Recently, gender categorizing is something that's frequently in my life. I have one baby with flowing locks of hair and people immediately point out that she's a girl - they KNOW she's a girl (based on her hair) and I have never (ok maybe once when she was super tiny) had anyone call her a boy. Her sister, my sweet Holland, however, is just starting to grow her hair in and she gets called a boy on a daily basis. It doesn't bother me that people refer to her as a boy (because being a boy or a girl is not a bad thing) but what's infuriating is that they associate lack of hair which gender ... even if she is full-on wearing all pink. I constantly get the "Twins?! How awesome that you have one of both!" to which I always respond, "Well, they're both girls ..." So, is not awesome if I have two children of the same gender?
Typical day at the grocery store when Holland gets called a boy. :)

I'm not hung up on gender identity myself. My girls are girls until they tell me otherwise - and if they are in fact boys in a girls body, then we will figure that out when the time comes and it will be okay. They have your typical "girl" toys at my home - a kitchen (which is pink because I found it on Facebook garage sales for $20!) because I think it's important they play chef ... boys and girls can cook! Mommy cooks! They have baby dolls and strollers ... because they want to be like mommy and I think it's important for them to learn to be a good parent. But they also have blocks and trucks and cars, etc. I recently picked out a puzzle for them and purposely chose the one with trucks on it (it's a matching puzzle) because girls can like trucks and emergency vehicles. It's important for them to know what those vehicles are too!

Harper and her school bus!
I think it's important for parents to foster creativity in their children's lives and to not limit them to "boy" stuff and "girl" stuff - we determine that, right? Who cares if your son plays with a doll - don't you want him to grow up and become a great daddy and help his partner care for their child? Who cares if your daughter plays with trucks - maybe she'll become a mechanic or an engineer! They're kids! Let them use their imagination! Let them not have their interests dictated to them by companies that are gender conforming! And for the love of all that is Holy, let's not let hair dictate gender either.

Stacking blocks at the library!
Sound off! How to do you feel about gender norms for children? Do you support pink/blue for girl/boy or are you on the "whatever goes" team? I'd love to hear back from you!

Love is All Around

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It's finally February! I'm excited because that means we are one month closer to SPRING! Can you feel it?! Ok, probably at this point not, but we are 46 days out from the first official day of spring and I am SO excited!

February can be a hard month, especially if you've been through a rough break up or divorce. Maybe dating prospects aren't the best, and you're feeling queasy being surrounded by the red hearts and chocolates that fill the stores. Personally, I'm excited for this month! I don't have a partner to share the love with - but I do have two beautiful children and a whole future ahead of me.

Love is for everyone. Whether that love comes from family, friends or a special someone .. you deserve all that this month has to offer. No one to shower you with gifts and adoration? Then love yourself. Get your favorite gal (that's you, boo!) a pedicure, a nice box of chocolates, a bottle of wine ... basically, treat yo'self!

You deserve it, even when you think you don't. Even when you think the world doesn't care. Show yourself you care and you're valuable of love. And spread the love too! Send Valentine's day cards to family members, do something nice for a neighbor, grab drinks on the "official" Galentine's Day. Gather up those best gal pals and paint the town red! 

Be kind - especially to yourself. Spread love and joy and celebrate the amazingness that your future holds.